Loud Music and Noisy Neighbors
Volume XIX, Issue 24
You’ve all been reading about our new Fractional Ownership properties, one of which is in the heart of the Carré d’Or in Nice—”Le Palais du Soleil.” It’s an apartment I fell in love with: 85.5m2, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, high ceilings, parquet flooring, eight windows, triple balcony, fireplace, etc., etc., etc. It’s located on the corner of two pedestrian streets over a very chic café, Le Grand Café de France.
The café has a large terrace in the rear over which the balcony of the apartment looks. According to the “Réglement de Copropriété” (the building by laws), the café cannot use the terrace for commercial purposes…but of course, they do. Because of our concern over possible noise from the terrace, not only did we dine on it Sunday night, but we went back the next day to visit the property and verify that the terrace wasn’t a nuisance. The signing of the “Compromis de Vente” (pre-sale agreement) was to take place the next day.
The terrace turned out to be no real issue. The parasols and awnings over the terrace reflect the sun back into the apartment rendering it even brighter than normal. The terrace is lovely, as are the well-heeled patrons. Their conversations were muffled by the sound of the birds and the breeze off the sea. We found it entertaining and easy to block-out just by closing the thick double-paned French doors. So, the terrace was no longer a concern…but, we discovered another problem.
The café has speakers in its ceiling on the upper level that play continual music from early morning till late at night. The music, while not at all offensive, can be heard in the apartment…faintly, but heard, nonetheless. When the French doors were open, the music was obscured, but when the doors were closed, it was quite obvious. There was almost a bit of vibration. When we asked, the café management explained that the music could get even louder at certain times. As a result of the finding, I was devastated.
Fortunately, we hadn’t yet signed the preliminary purchase documents, so I cancelled the purchase and met with the seller. He is a “marchand de bien” (developer) who purchased the property in January while the cafés were closed, so there was no music at the time and didn’t have a clue about it. When I visited the property, the café was closed, so we hadn’t considered it, either. Now, he’s inherited this problem for any buyer and it’s put us in a real dilemma.
The seller brought in a sound specialist to survey the situation. He and others we spoke with concur that even if we were to insulate the floor of the apartment, it wouldn’t block out the music completely. Plus, it is up to the café to install the insulation, as by law, they are responsible. He considered negotiating with the café owner to do the work to insulate his ceiling in exchange for our allowing their commercial use of its terrace. I didn’t have high hopes for this, as was proven correct when the proprietor of the café refused to do anything at all.
In this case, the current owner must sue the café to get any satisfaction. That will take years and a whole lot of money and effort. I’m certainly not prepared to do such a thing and consider that we may have “dodged a bullet” simply by my timing to visit the property prior to signing. Now, we’re on the lookout for another property equally as wonderful as this one was. It won’t be easy to find, but we’re hopeful.
The lesson has to do with the problems associated with being directly over a café, bar or restaurant. On rue Masséna, I am surrounded by them, but not directly over one. The noise I hear when the windows are closed is a blend of people and music. It lasts till about 11 p.m. and then it’s relatively quiet —actually much quieter than my street in Paris where the residents are known to party all night long with their windows wide open, motorbikes race down the street with worn-out mufflers and people hang out on the street to smoke and don’t care how loud they get. Here, it just sounds like the kind of street party in which you’d want to participate.
When making a property purchase in France (or anywhere), noise can be a big factor to whether you’re going to enjoy your abode or not. Some people are used to living in an urban environment and find the noise comforting. Others need complete silence. If you live in a multi-family residence, then noise from your neighbors may be impossible to avoid. You have no control over them and a minimal amount of control over insulation. But, you can certainly decide to stay away from commercial activity, choose to be overlooking a courtyard rather than a street and can also determine if the building itself is well built and insulated, or not.
Your level of noise tolerance is something we’ll need to know when we’re searching for a property for you to buy. In the case of a Fractional Ownership property, it’s absolutely necessary that it is so perfect that none of the owners will every have a need to voice a complaint…about anything. While I am deeply disappointed that this property has such a major flaw, and it means a loss of time and money, the discovery was extremely important to the success of the project and the satisfaction of the owners.
We aim to please…and on the way, make no mistakes. Stay tuned for when we locate our next great and better Fractional Ownership property!
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. Is Fractional Ownership Right for You?
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